Panda jaw evolved for bamboo, according reports in ScienceDaily and University of Turku (UTU) Press Release 9 July 2021 and Scientific Reports, 9 July 2021, doi: 10.1038/s41598-021-93808-2.
When pandas eat bamboo stems they first use their premolar teeth to peel off the outer layer which contains harmful chemicals and abrasive crystals. Then they grind up the rest of the stem with their molar (back) teeth. A group of scientists at University of Turku, Finland noted that other bears, such as polar bears and brown bears, would not be able to do this with their teeth and jaws.
According to Juha Varrela from the Institute of Dentistry at the University, “The premolars giant pandas use for peeling bamboo are unique among the family of bears and allow the removal of the poisonous green skin of the bamboo which also includes mineral crystals which would wear their teeth”.
However, in order to use their premolar teeth in this way pandas need to be able to move their jaw sideways, as well as open and close it in a hinge-type movement. The research team studied the joint between the jaw and the rest of the skull and found it enabled the right movement needed for peeling bamboo.
Pekka Vallittu, also from the Institute of Dentistry explained: “The necessity to ensure adequate nutrition has helped evolve the temporomandibular joint and the shape of the teeth to allow efficient peeling of the bamboo without exposing the premolars to the attritive (erosive) or other damaging effect of bamboo diet”.
The UTU press release is headed: “the Evolution of the Temporomandibular Joint and Premolar Teeth Enabled Adaptation to Bamboo Diet”. It goes on to state: “Through the processes of natural selection, the giant panda’s dietary preference has strongly impacted the evolution of its teeth and jaws”.
Links: Science Daily, UTU
Editorial Comment: Let’s separate the real science from the evolutionary “Just-So” stories here. The actual observations are that pandas have teeth and jaws with the right structure to efficiently peel bamboo and eat it. Brown bears and polar bears do not have teeth and jaws to do that. Hence the conundrum: If pandas did not already have the ability to peel and eat bamboo they could not adapt their teeth and jaw joint, no matter how much they tried to eat bamboo.
Nor will the process of natural selection change the shape of an animal’s teeth or jaw joints if tries to eat the wrong food. Any animal that tried this would just get sick and malnourished, and be selected right out of the evolutionary struggle for life. Therefore, the claim that the panda’s jaw and teeth evolved from a “normal” bear jaw and teeth is pure evolutionary wishful thinking.
Now let’s go back to the observed facts, i.e. pandas’ jaws and teeth do have the right structure for eating bamboo. As no-one has ever seen a non-bamboo-eating bear change to a bamboo-eating bear (panda) there is no evidence it happened at all. It is much more logical to believe that pandas’ teeth and jaws were designed for bamboo eating, so that is what they have been eating since they were originally created as a separate kind – differing even from other bear kinds, which may also explain why we still struggle to classify pandas with other bears.
Creation Research News 14 July 2021
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